Do not plunge Kenya into chaos, clerics say

Politicians have been urged to avoid plunging the country into anarchy after Tuesday’s General Election.

Religious leaders, under the umbrella of the Multi-Sectoral Forum, also urged Kenyans not to agree to be incited to violence and asked those dissatisfied with the outcome of the election to seek redress in court. They claimed that some political players had organised gangs to cause violence if they lost.

The leaders, who represented Christians, Muslims, and Hindus, urged the presidential front-runners – the Jubilee Party’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (NASA) – to respect the decision of voters and not resort to protests.

“They need to publicly commit to accept the election results announced by the IEBC or to file petitions in court if they are not satisfied with what is announced. They have no right to incite supporters to engage in demonstrations or violence against other Kenyans should the results not be in their favour,” the leaders said in a statement read in turns by leaders from the different faiths.

The religious leaders met at the ACK Guest House in Nairobi, where they delivered what they termed ‘a final message to Kenyans before the elections’.

Eldoret Diocese Catholic Bishop Cornelius Korir urged the presidential candidates, who are supposed to wind up their campaigns tomorrow, to end their vote-hunting mission by assuring Kenyans that they will stand for peace throughout the process.

The clerics claimed that they have information from observers that some politicians have organised gangs of youths to engage in violence and pretend that it was spontaneous. The clerics termed the alleged scheme ‘a grievous and evil political strategy’.

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“This is the information we are getting from our election observation structures and we believe that the National Intelligence Service and other security agents should have this information so that they can stop those who may wish to employ this for their political capital,” said the secretary general of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, Canon Peter Karanja.

The National Muslim Leaders Forum chairman, Al-Hajj Yussuf Murigu, said Kenyans have never fully recovered from the aftermath of the 2007/2008 election violence and warned politicians against taking them along the same path.

Though the religious leaders expressed satisfaction with the way the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission had so far managed the elections, they warned presiding and returning officers against being compromised and to ensure that the integrity of the election is upheld.

“They must constantly communicate with Kenyans so that there is no space for speculation and propaganda in the minds of Kenyans,” said Bishop Korir. The leaders also urged security agents to be firm against political actors organising criminal gangs and avoid being intimidated by politicians.

“The security agents must conduct themselves within the law, and serve all parties without bias, but they must also be firm and refuse to be intimidated.

“Beyond engaging in riot control measures, they must ensure the sponsors of illegal groups are arrested and prosecuted to prevent bloodshed,” said Bishop Mark Kariuki of the Evangelical Churches of Kenya. The religious leaders urged the winners to form an inclusive government to help attain national cohesion and integration.

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“This is the surest cure to the toxicity, anxiety, and desperation that has characterised elections in our country,” noted Canon Rosemary Mbogo of the Anglican Church.

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